MPs ask why S’pore’s annual 1.1 million GCE-Level scripts can’t be marked locally

There are 1.1 million GCE level scripts to be marked every year.

Sulaiman Daud | February 11, 06:58 pm


Following the loss of GCE O-Level examination scripts, Singaporeans asked why we still needed to send scripts all the way to England for marking.

MPs asked the same question in Parliament on Feb. 11.

Substantial resources required

According to Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, marking every single examination script in Singapore would burden the local teachers. He said:

We need to be mindful too about the workload and well-being of our teachers.”

Every year, 1.1 million GCE examination scripts for the O and A-Levels need to be marked.

300,000 scripts are marked locally while the other 800,000 are marked by Cambridge Assessment.

They engage 2,200 professors and other educators to do the marking.

If every script were to be marked in Singapore, there would be concerns over the tight timeline between exams and the release of results, not to mention the “substantial amount of highly qualified resources” needed.

This was largely the same reason given by the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) when Mothership asked the same question.

Ong added that Cambridge Assessment takes its job seriously, and the examiner who lost the scripts will not be engaged in the future.


But perhaps there’s another solution at hand.

What if scripts were marked electronically to speed up marking and ensure they won’t be lost?

Students can either key in their answers via a computer, or scripts can be scanned and then marked on-screen.

Minister Ong addressed this. In fact, SEAB has been working with Cambridge Assessment to move to on-screen marking of GCE scripts since 2015.

However, due to the immense number of scripts, this was carried out in phases.

By 2018, all N-Level scripts and some O-Level scripts were marked on-screen, close to 65 percent of all GCE scripts.

MOE expects to transit almost all GCE written exam scripts to be marked on-screen by the end of 2019.

But not every exam is suitable for on-screen marking, such as Science Practical exams with chemical symbols, or Drama and Art exams.


Thinking ahead, perhaps examinations themselves could be conducted online, and not written out.

Schools have already introduced some methods, like videos for Mother Tongue oral exams and computer-based writing for certain Mother Tongue and Literature papers.

But Ong cautioned against too fast a shift.

He said that the readiness of schools and students have to be taken into account, and reminded the House that not every student enjoyed easy access to a computer.

Related stories:

Here are the reasons why O-level scripts are marked in Cambridge & not S’pore

Here’s everything you need to know about how a Cambridge examiner lost 32 O-level scripts on a train

Top image from MOE’s Facebook page.

About Sulaiman Daud

Sulaiman believes that we can be heroes, if just for one day. His favourite Doctor is Peter Capaldi's Twelve and his favourite person is Jürgen Klopp. He also writes about film and pop-culture, which you are very welcome to read here.

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